In this neck of the woods, garlic can be planted anytime from October through November, as long as the ground hasn’t had a hard freeze. Our first year, we planted it at the end of November. Last year, we planted it in the middle of October. When it was time to harvest it in the late spring, there was absolutely no discernible difference between the two crops.
We’ve been struggling to decide where this year’s garlic will go. It is important that we rotate our crops so that the same item isn’t planted in the same place year after year. Crop rotation is especially important when gardening organically because it helps manage soil fertility, helps avoid or reduce problems with soil-borne diseases, and can deter some soil-dwelling insects.
The problem here is that the soil is rocky and shallow, having only been tilled once since the sod was removed. If we wanted to have a substantial bed in which the garlic could grow, we would have to build up the soil a bit before planting.
Enter: Enormous Load of Horse Shit.
Not much is better for nourishing the soil than some wonderful old manure. The older and rottier, the better. Whether it comes from cows or sheep, horses or goats, the main thing is that the manure is well-matured and not “hot.” Fresh manure will pack some serious heat and can actually burn crops which, obviously, no one wants to do. The best kinds of manure come from ruminants (cows, sheep, goats). This is because they digest materials more thoroughly and are therefore less likely to contain viable weed seeds.
In the end, you use what you’ve got (or at least what you’ve got access to), and we’ve got horse manure. Our good friends have a barn just ten minutes away and they have been providing us with giant piles of old horse shit for the past two years. I mean, really, what more could anyone really want from a friendship?
So, last night, after dark (which is the time of day piles of shit look their best), Page drove up and dumped two truckloads of year-old manure on top of the space we intend to be next year’s garden extension. We will spend much of today moving a portion of the manure by the wheelbarrow-full over to the pepper bed. Once there is sufficient poop on the bed, we will till it in, providing a more friendly environment in which our beloved garlic seed can be planted.
When it does, we’ll get our garlic in the ground, cover it with mulch, and wait for spring.